Sunday, February 19, 2012

Safe House is the latest film starring Denzel Washington and I went to see it recently, just before its release. The English-language feature debut from Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, Safe House is about CIA agent Tobin Frost (Washington), assumed to be a rogue agent by the CIA themselves but he is forced to return to the fold when he is left vulnerable in South Africa. He is taken to the safe house of the title, run by Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). But the safe house is breached and so Weston has to try to keep Frost safe while they're on the run. Elements within the CIA are after Frost because he has a list of compromised agents from every major security agency on the planet including MI5 and the CIA. On paper, you would think that Washington is a little bit too old for a role like this and that Safe House would just be another predictable and improbable action movie. But to Espinosa and Washington's credit, it has a slightly off-kilter feel, both in the directing and the acting, so it does keep you watching. Reynolds as the less experienced agent turns in a decent performance even though he does feel outmatched at times by Washington. Support from Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga as the senior CIA heads is very solid and the South Africa setting lends it a different mood to the scores of American-set suspense thrillers we've seen over the years. Espinosa is definitely a name to watch and if you like action thrillers with a little bit of intelligence, then Safe House is for you…

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Boca is a period gangster film, a look at the life of Sao Paulo's godfather Hiroito during his heyday of the 1950s and 1960s, that's just hit Blu-ray and DVD. The movie is based on the real-life Hiroito's biography. Daniel de Oliveira plays the title role and we watch his rise from a young boy obsessed with prostitutes in the city's red light district to a major player on its streets, dealing drugs, running hookers and building up quite a fearsome reputation in his own right. His is a life of violence, as he is accused of murdering his father, and he quickly becomes alienated from his family, as he is drawn to the demi-monde of the city. Director Flavio Frederico recreates the world of 1950s and 1960s Sao Paulo with some skill and panache and the setting definitely has a very different feel to it, marking it out from American films dealing with a similar subject. Also, the South American cast exude a kind of cool on screen that a US cast would be hard-pressed to match here. De Oliveira is suitably charismatic as the main protagonist, making a credible kingpin. He is also able to carry off the scenes where he has to come across as a ruthless psychopath. Hermila Guedes, who plays his prostitute wife Alaide, performs well on screen and acquits herself admirably. My own quibble, and this is a minor one, is that the 90 minute running time is far too short, as it's such a rich subject that it seems that it could have supported more. Brazil is already a major player in foreign language movies with films like City of God and Central Station: Boca is a stylish and exciting gangster biopic, a worthy addition to the country's modern cinematic heritage…

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The life of a freelancer is a strange one. You can go from scrabbling around for the odd crumb of work to having to really plan your time within a week. January was a terrible month for me: there was little work around and I was without my car for its entirety. Now into the second week of February, I have just landed a few days a week regular subbing/ production work that will see me into late May/ early June. On top of that, it looks like a TRIPWIRE 20th anniversary book looks like a real possibility for sometime around August. I also need to finish my spooky London photo book plus my comic creator portraits book, which ties in with the Gosh exhibition that kicks off on March 10th. I have also landed some more Judge Dredd Megazine and Big Issue in The North work and I am doing more for Comic Heroes, which means that I am off to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle at the end of March. We have also booked tables at Bristol (as ever) but also at Kapow! in May. There's also some other things bubbling under but if they happen, they would be amazing. So I am insanely busy from now until the beginning of the summer. But a week ago, I was still wondering how I was going to get by the next few months. I'll be including ordering information on the two books (Faces and Spooked) as it gets closer but here's a few images including covers to whet your appetite. I'll be posting a blog entry on the Gosh exhibition nearer the time…

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